The fine for violating the federal mask mandate is going up.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on Thursday announced the fine for people who refuse to wear a mask at airports, on commercial aircraft, on buses and on trains has increased to $500-$1,000 for the first offense, up from $250.
And repeat offenders face a fine of $1,000-$3,000, up from $1,500.
“TSA will double the fines on travelers that refuse to mask,” President Joe Biden said Thursday when announcing a slew of other actions his administration is taking to combat the spread of COVID-19. “If you break the rules, be prepared to pay. And by the way, show some respect!”
TSA issued a federal mask mandate for transportation on Feb. 2 and recently extended it to Jan. 18, 2022, in an effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Wearing a mask protects the traveling public and all of the personnel who make the travel experience safe, secure, and comfortable,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas said in a statement. “We will continue to enforce the mask mandate as long as necessary to protect public health and safety.”
As of Aug. 19, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has received 2,867 reports of airline passengers who have refused to comply with the federal facemask mandate so far this year.
“We appreciate the majority of travelers each day who voluntarily follow the requirement, but find this action necessary to maximize the protections for those who use and work within the transportation system, and to contain COVID-19,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement. “By doubling the range of penalties, we seek to reinforce the importance of voluntary adherence.”
TSA is going to update signage at airports regarding the increased civil penalties for those who violate the policy.
The fines for violating the federal mask mandate are different from the FAA's fines for unruly passengers, which are part of the agency's Zero Tolerance campaign against unruly passenger behavior. From Jan. 1 to Aug. 19, the FAA has received roughly 3,889 reports of unruly behavior by passengers, including the 2,867 reports of people refusing to wear a face mask. And fines against unruly passengers have surpassed $1 million this year.
The TSA's COVID-19 website is here.